Can atty charge for schooling to learn estate law?

Atty charged for "charges for course related to probate estate to learn the law". The charges so he can talk to the head of the firm who we hired inthe first place so double billed.

Dallas, TX -

Attorney Answers (3)

James Brian Thomas

James Brian Thomas

Estate Planning Attorney - Dallas, TX
Answered

That's certainly an interesting invoice entry. I'm assuming that your contract with the firm probably identifies the types of charges that you might expect in the course of their representation of you. "Learning the law" probably didn't make the list, although collaboration among attorneys in a firm is pretty common (and helpful,) and you're right to be mindful of the double-billing potential.

If you have a question or a complaint about the bill from your lawyer, go tell your lawyer. This forum is intended to provide quick information and thought, most of which boils down to "go get a lawyer." It is not, and should not become, a forum for clients rightfully ticked off to vent their frustration. You need to have this discussion with your attorney.

This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted to practice law in the State of Texas only, and make... more
Brian W. Erikson

Brian W. Erikson

Construction / Development Lawyer - Dallas, TX
Answered

An attorney is only supposed to accept legal work for which the attorney is competent or will become competent (but not at client expense). If you believe the fees charged are too high, you should isolate the excess fees from the attorney's statements for professional services. If you cannot resolve the excess fee dispute, please note that the Dallas Bar Association has a fee disputes panel. You can review the fee disputes web page at the following link:

Dallas Bar Association - Fee Disputes
http://www.dallasbar.org/node/88

But, before you do that, write a letter to the attorney by certified mail to complain about the charges. In your letter set out specifics about your situation, and why you believe the charges are not reasonable or necessary. An attorney is only permitted to charge reasonable and necessary fees. If the fees were not reasonable or necessary, the attorney should reduce the fee statement voluntarily.

The Texas Ethics Rules set out the factors for how to determine whether fees are reasonable or necessary. You can review the Texas Ethics Rules at the following web address:

Texas Ethics Rules
http://www.law.cornell.edu/ethics/tx/code/TX_CO...

If the attorney refuses to acknowledge your concerns, you may consider filing a grievance with the Texas State Bar. You can review the grievance process at the following web link:

State Bar of Texas grievance process web site:
http://www.texasbar.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section...

Good luck.

Hope this helps. If you think this post was a good answer, please click the “good answer” button below and/or designate my answer as the best answer. Thanks.

Lawrence Frederick Dietlein Jr.

Lawrence Frederick Dietlein Jr.

Estate Planning Attorney - Houston, TX
Answered

I suggest reading your contract very carefully to see if it includes taking courses to "learn the law". My firm does not bill for taking legal courses to help a specific client with their situation, but billing errors do occur. If a charge for such a course did appear on one of my client's invoices, and that client brought the charge to my attention, I would without hesitation remove the charge. Perhaps your attorney took an advanced estate planning course that covered some rare facet of a newly enacted federal or state law that could allow your attorney to better draft your estate planning documents, providing you with an enormous benefit, then perhaps a charge for the course (not time) is reasonable; but again, my firm would merely consider this part of the learning curve, no matter how advanced, and not charge you. I agree with the other attorney's answer: have a "heart to heart" with your attorney ... and, hopefully, he or she will remedy the situation to your liking. Take care.

Questions? An attorney can help.

Ask a Question
Free & anonymous.
Find a Lawyer
Free. No commitment.